The recent outbreak of novel coronavirus has disheveled the lives of people across the globe. According to doctors and scientists, the best defense against the coronavirus is to have a healthy immune system that can fight off the virus. While maintaining a balanced diet and regular exercise helps in keeping your immune system stronger, there are also certain foods that contain essential nutrients and minerals that can help your body fight off pathogens, which are foreign bodies like bacteria and viruses, causing infection or disease. Our immune system contains proteins, tissues, and organs that carry out bodily processes and fight off harmful viruses. When our body comes in contact with a pathogen, our immune system triggers an immune response that releases antibodies that helps in killing the virus. Therefore, incorporating certain foods in your diet can be helpful in warding off deadly viruses including novel coronavirus.
These immunity-boosting foods are rich in antioxidants and other nutrients that help in keeping the cells active and healthy. Sadly, the majority of people these days don’t eat enough foods that are rich in such nutrients, thereby becoming more susceptible to several diseases and illnesses. Moreover, you have to understand that you can’t just eat a specific food and expect a quick boost in immunity. A truly healthy immune system depends on a well-adjusted combination of minerals and vitamins over a period of time, in addition to regular exercise and normal sleep patterns.
With that said, let’s discuss the top foods that you must include in your daily diet if you want to maintain a healthy immune system.
10 Foods that will Help Build Immunity
While there are plenty of health supplements available that contain the required daily dosage of minerals and vitamins for your body, it is advised to get them through natural food sources as much as possible. The following are the best foods to consider for immunity boosting:
Green leafy vegetables like spinach are rich in iron and vitamin C. They are essential for fresh blood production and keeping blood impurities at bay. Moreover, spinach is packed with nutrients like beta-carotene and antioxidants that improve your body’s disease-fighting ability. Thus, including spinach in your diet can help your immune system health. You can add spinach to a number of dishes. However, make sure that the leaves are properly cooked, as raw spinach can be hard to digest for some individuals. Spinach should also be included in your kids’ diet mandatorily as it provides them with essential nutrients to grow and secure a healthy immune system.
Turmeric is a spice that has been a part of Indian cooking for centuries. Turmeric is known for its anti-inflammatory properties that help in treating inflammation of the muscles and bones. Most importantly, turmeric contains an active ingredient called curcumin which is a great modulator of the immune system. Several studies have reported that curcumin can modulate the proliferation and activation of T cells, and can inhibit oxidative stress-induced inflammation.
Ginger is a great food with excellent anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger is a popular spice that can help reduce inflammation-related issues as well as help in the treatment of sore throat. Ginger has antiviral properties and can also improve digestion, and help maintain a healthy gut thereby strengthening the immune system.
#4 Citrus Fruits
Last but not least, citrus fruits like lemons, oranges, limes, grapefruit, and tangerines, among others, are packed with vitamin C that helps in boosting the production of white blood cells in the body. White blood cells are essential in fighting diseases and infections. It also helps in removing free radicals from the body, preventing cell damage, which ultimately reduces your chances of having cancer.
Of all the nuts, almonds contain high concentrations of vitamin E that plays a crucial role in keeping the immune system healthy. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that requires fat to be absorbed properly. Almond contains healthy fats that eases down the process of absorption. Vitamin E aids the production of red blood cells that boosts the blood flow to all parts of the body. This keeps your immune system stronger. You are advised to consume 4-6 almonds daily. You can eat it whole or soaked in water or add some crushed almonds in your milk for a tasty milkshake.
Yogurt is considered a probiotic that is essential to your immune system’s health. It directly affects your gut, helping the good bacteria to thrive. Your gut health is directly associated with your immune system. Therefore, a healthy gut means a healthy immune system. While there are plenty of flavorful yogurts available in the market, you are advised to consume plain yogurt. Plain yogurts are free of any sugars, additives, and artificial flavors that can degrade the overall quality of the food. The best way to consume yogurt is plain or with rice, or you can drizzle some honey and also add your favorite fruits to it.
Kiwi is one such fruit that contains vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, and folate in abundance. Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that helps fight free radicals and prevent cell damage. It also helps in boosting the production of white blood cells that fight infections. You can consume kiwi on a daily basis. The fruit contains tiny seeds that are edible and full of nutrients as well. You can simply eat it alone, put it in fruit salad, or make a smoothie out of it – the options are endless.
Just like kiwi, papaya is naturally full of necessary nutrients and minerals like folate, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and potassium. Potassium in papayas is known for keeping the heart-healthy. At the same time, vitamin C acts as an antioxidant that boosts the production of white blood cells that helps in fighting infections and ward off diseases.
#9 Green Tea
Green tea contains excellent antioxidant properties that help the body detox toxins and other harmful elements. Green tea contains a powerful antioxidant called EGCG or epigallocatechin that has been shown to boost immune system function. Green tea, since it is not fully processed, holds back the majority of its nutrients and minerals in the leaves. Experts suggest that you should consume 3-4 cups of green tea in a day as it will not only keep you hydrated but also helps in flushing out the toxins and other waste materials from the body while keeping the immune system healthy.
#10 Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds are packed with nutrients and minerals, including vitamin E, vitamin B-6, magnesium, and phosphorus. Vitamin E is considered a potent antioxidant that is beneficial for the immune system’s health. The best part about sunflower seeds is that it also enhances the flavor of the food you are preparing, due to its spicy punch. You can add sunflower seeds to your salads, soups, seasoning of certain foods like chicken, for sautéing, and more.
3 Simple Recipes that will help Build Immunity
Now that you have understood the best immunity-boosting foods, let’s discuss some recipes that will help you with the process.
Immunity boosting chicken and turmeric soup
- 1 Tbsp ghee
- 1/2 onion chopped
- 2 large carrots peeled and cubed
- 1 cup broccoli chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 boneless skinless chicken breast chopped
- 2 tsp chopped coriander leaves
- 1 tsp turmeric powder or fresh grated turmeric
- 1/2 tsp cumin powder
- 1/2 tsp pepper powder
- 1/2 tsp salt to taste
- 3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 1 cup spinach leaves chopped
- Heat ghee in a pan over medium heat.
- Add the onion and saute, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the carrots, broccoli, and garlic and continue sauteing for 2 minutes.
- Add the chopped chicken and cook just long enough to brown the meat, about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add the remaining ingredients, except coconut milk and stir well and cover. Cook at a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally, for at least 30 minutes.
- Add the coconut milk and serve hot.
Immunity boosting drink
- Ginger grated – 1 tbsp
- Peppercorns – 2
- Cinnamon – 1-inch stick
- Cloves – 2
- Star anise – 1
- Cardamom pod – 1 crushed
- Unpasteurized honey – 1 tbsp
- Tulsi leaves – a handful
Boil all ingredients except honey along with a liter of water in a pan for 30 minutes. Have ¼ cup of this drink warm with a little bit of honey.
Kiwi, Lime, Watermelon Salad
- Chopped watermelon – 1 cup
- Kiwi – 2 chopped
- Sunflower Seeds – 1 tablespoon
- Mix all fruits and sprinkle with lime juice and sunflower seeds.
While there is no one way to avoid any infection entirely, strengthening your immune system with particular food ingredients can go a long way to reduce your risk of contamination. The reason why we mentioned these 12 foods is that they are not only the best foods for immunity boosting but are also easily accessible throughout the year. Our immune system plays a vital role in warding off viruses and bacteria from affecting our body and causing damage. Consuming these foods on a daily basis will not only keep you healthy but also help you achieve a stronger immune system, thereby keeping you immune and disease-free.